Why is art important today, in particular in the MENA region (Middle East North Africa)? Art in many ways plays a role as a vector of peace. In a world where people, communities and countries increasingly close themselves up to others, art creates human bonds, instead of breaking them. Artists are witnesses to their times. They might cull from past experiences, but often spur viewers to envision alternative, hopeful, futures.
What are some challenges to organizing an art fair in Beirut? The road to opening day, like for any art fair, is quite a hectic journey, and one is bound to face the unexpected. Which is also what makes it exciting!
Could you tell us more about yourself and your career? I have been present in Lebanon for 28 years, and involved in producing art fairs in Beirut since 1998, when I inaugurated the Artuel Salon, the precursor to BEIRUT ART FAIR. I lived through Lebanon’s ups and downs, and saw artists holding up a mirror to the country all throughout. I witnessed the transformation of the local art world from an embryonic scene to a full-fledged one, spanning several museums, contemporary art centers, and a diverse array of galleries, among many other initiatives – and of course, the dramatic international opening up of Beirut’s artistic scene, which this year’s Fair epitomizes.
What is your favorite part of your job? It’s always extremely gratifying to see BEIRUT ART FAIR bringing hearts and minds together, and witnessing the public engaging with art in meaningful ways. I also immensely enjoy building relationships with international art institutions and museums, and drawing collectors to discover the Land of the Cedars. Most of all, I adore discovering new talents, following their careers and watching them blossom. I remain close to many artists from around the world whom I met at the very beginning of my involvement with art fairs; it’s an honor to count them as my friends.
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